Blade Runner (1982)

“Blade Runner” is how a science fiction film SHOULD be made, as a speculative thinker, not as a silly disposable piece of throwaway camp like “Star Wars” (yes, I dissed George Lucas’ Magnum Opus. I can see you fanboys writing that down.) I won’t place this on the pillar of perfect science fiction like “Firefly” (’cause I just won’t,) but the creativity of the whole enterprise shines through, past the dark sets and blackened hearts of the characters.

Early in the 21st Century (yep, folks, we should be seeing some crazy shit real soon,) Tyrell Industries has refined the android model to the brink of perfection. These beings, called ‘replicants,’  are man-made entities virtually identical to the human but used for all the dirty work- war, prostitution, dangerous jobs. They were implanted with memories that are not their own and manufactured to feel no empathy or identity as an individual.

But things have changed. Replicants have formed a consciousness of their own and have become too dangerous to keep. That’s where Deckard (Harrison Ford) comes in. Deckard, a ‘Blade Runner,’ is assigned to kill illegal Replicants. In turn, a group of Replicants attempt to force their their creator, Dr. Tyrell (Joe Turkel,) to increase their longevity (the androids have a maximum life span of three or four years.)

    It’s Deckard against Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer,) the maniacal, intelligent leader of the Replicants, and his three cohorts. And you know what? I kind of wanted Roy Batty to win. He’s a great, complex character, even though he goes to violent extremes to get what he wants (I felt for two of the victims, but less for the third.) Deckard is frankly kind of a bore. He’s typical stoic Ford, and the way he borderline-rapes beautiful female Replicant and love interest Rachael (Sean Young) is a little sickening.

I liked Batty a lot, but I was equally taken with J.F. Sebastion (William Sanderson,) and eccentric and somewhat childlike inventor suffering from Methuselah Syndrome, which leaves him prematurely aged.  He’s a little talked about character, but I find him just as interesting as Batty. J.F. picks up waifishly appealing Replicant Priss (Daryl Hannah) and takes her home with him, a decision that turns out to be the worst of his life.

There are a few corny scenes and lines (like “Wake up! Time to die!”, uttered by Leon (Brion James,)) but the movie is very original and iconic. I love the unique sci-fi vision originally created by Philip K. Dick (author of the book ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ that “Blade Runner” is based on) but brought to life by Ridley Scott. The movie’s world is damp, dreary, but strangely compelling. The final confrontation is sad and creepy and maybe even a little darkly humorous, all at once.

Rutger Hauer’s performance as the lead android is wonderful. He is creepy yet tragic, all he wants is more time. In a world where humans have really screwed their creations over, the creations want to feel the sunlight a little longer, to live to see the world through aged eyes. Why should their experiences mean any less? The final line by Hauer (…”Like tears in the rain”) perfectly summarizes this.

“Blade Runner” is a classic movie that is most definitely worth multiple rewatches. It’s important in that it deal with the moral quandaries of science and creation, the way ‘Frankenstein’ did. It features a stunner of a performance by Rutger Hauer (too bad he plays in so much crap now…) and a chilling orchestral score. Watch it. Watch it more than once, if you haven’t already, and think about the implications behind it and films of it’s ilk.

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